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December Newsletter: Happy Christmas!

So yesterday was #christmasjumperday and I finallyyyyy started to feel #festive for the first time this December! 🎅🌲🌟

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Happy Christmas Eve-Eve!!

Ahhhh just two more sleeps – I can’t believe it! I know I say this all the time but it genuinely only feels like a couple of days have passed since I wrote my November newsletter, not a whole month! Because of the Christmas break, this newsletter is being brought to you a little early this month, and I have an End of Year Review coming just before the New Year, so watch out for that too, but first here’s how my December went…

I launched my first giveaway

 

It's HERE! My big #Christmas surprise! Go find out what it is over on the #blog- link in bio!! #Wordpress #newpost #blog

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So I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I see a lot of other bloggers doing them and it always seems to work out nicely; I get a few new followers and you get something in return, and it’s Christmas after all 😉 My giveaway is super simple- just go ahead and ‘like’ my Facebook page, if you haven’t already, and the person who is my 500th like will WIN a prize – it couldn’t be simpler! GOOD LUCK!

I went to The Clothes Show

 

Loved meeting @fernemccann today @clothesshow – what a babe! @ambamarie19 #clothesshow #birmingham #sundayfunday

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This was a last minute decision me and my friend made, and I am SO glad we did! We found cheap 2-4-1 tickets online and headed to Birmingham’s NEC Arena on a frosty Sunday morning in December ready for a full day of shopping! I’ve been to The Clothes Show before and loved it, and this was the final year it was going to be held in Birmingham, so it really was the end of an era! We had a lovely day of shopping, grabbing goody bags and celeb spotting too. The show is relocating to Liverpool next year so hopefully I’ll get the chance to attend when I’m up visiting the family!

I took a trip to the Birmingham Christmas Markets

 

I just love #Christmas markets 🎅🌲🎁🎡 #Birmingham #GermanMarkets #SundayFunday

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I went to the Frankfurt Christmas Market Birmingham the same day I was at The Clothes Show, just because we finished early and had time to spare before we had to be home that night! It was super easy to get to the city centre from the NEC – we left the car there, hopped on a train to New Street and arrived within a matter of minutes. The train was cheap, totally stress free and sooo much easier than driving into the centre, faffing with finding a space and paying for parking! The Markets themselves were lovely and super festive, selling everything from handmade chocolates and sweets to little fluffy hats and children’s toys. The Birmingham Markets are the biggest German Markets in the UK, and I would 100% recommend taking a trip there if you get the chance!

It was the public vote for #UKBA17

 

 

As most of you will know, this year I was SHORTLISTED for an award at UK Blog Awards 2016 and the whole experience was fantastic from start to finish. When I found out that the awards were running again in 2017 I knew I just HAD to take part for a second year running and entered my blog in the travel category again. The public vote went live two weeks ago and closed this Monday. During this time I promoted my blog, and my entry, and tried to get as many votes as I possibly could! Good luck to all the other wonderful bloggers too, I know there was some tough competition in my category alone! The shortlist will be announced on 2nd Jan 2017 and I am PRAYING that I make it there again as it would kick off my 2017 in the best way possible – I will of course let you know the outcome and am keeping my fingers crossed!

I discovered Christmas at Blenheim Palace

 

Oh baby it's cold outside ❄️☃ #sundayfunday #blenheimpalace #decemberdays #cotswolds #oxfordshire

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As an annual pass holder I get to visit Blenheim Palace ALL the time, and I totally love it! I go during spring, summer and autumn, but my favourite time to visit is in December, when winter is in full force and the Palace looks even more beautiful than it usually does. This year they’re hosting a special event called ‘Christmas at Blenheim’ which, sadly, I haven’t been to yet, but I have been on the normal days and it’s special anyway so that will do for me! I love exploring the inside of the Palace, gazing up at the artwork on the grand ceilings and wandering around the acres of grounds outside too. Blenheim is particularly pretty during winter so go if you get the chance, spring will be here before we know it!

I started planning my travel adventures for 2017

 

Planning for my 2017 #travel adventures… It suddenly all seems a little bit real! 🌎✈️🚂 #jessdoeseurope

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So this is kind of exciting, but I have been in full on planning mode for the past couple of weeks and already have my first two trips of 2017 sorted! I’m off to Copenhagen for a few days in February (bring on The Little Mermaid!!) and have booked a cheeky week away in Tenerife at the end of May (thanks Jet2 – those free flights came in handy!) – it’s been three years since I had a beach holiday or done any kind of relaxation on a trip so I am really looking forward to it! I’m also in the early stages of planning my European Adventure – details will be revealed in the new year but what I can say is that I’m gonna be doing a 10-week-14-country stint across the continent at some point during 2017. Watch this space… I am so excited! #JessDoesEurope

Well that’s it from me – I’ll be publishing my End of Year Review next week, but until then I hope you have a wonderful Christmas – eat, drink, be merry and ENJOY IT! Happy Christmas everyone, and thank you as always for reading my blog, you have no idea how much it means to me that it’s still going strong after 2 and a half years!

Love Jess x

It's friyayyy 🎅🌲🎉🌟 #fridaynight #christmas #drinkssss

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Christmas Gift Guide for Travellers: 6 of The Best Travel Presents for 2016

It's friyayyy 🎅🌲🎉🌟 #fridaynight #christmas #drinkssss

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Hey everyone,

I cannot believe that it is Christmas week… where the hell has the last year gone?! It only feels 5 minutes since it was last Christmas, and I’m not quite ready for it to be here again if I’m honest! I’m also not feeling all that festive this year, I’m not sure why, I’ve had a rubbish few weeks recently and have let that affect my personal life quite a bit, but I’m hoping I’ll finally embrace the Christmas spirit this weekend when the big day is here!

 

 

Anyway, enough about me, this post was created for YOU, my lovely readers! For those of you who may have left your shopping until now *ahem* or if you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for those avid travellers in your lives, I thought I’d put together a quick gift guide to help with your last minute present worries! Here’s my pick of the 6 best gifts for travellers, in my humble opinion of course…

An Experience Day

 

 

WHAT IS IT? –  An Experience Day is a TOTAL saving grace for people who you have absolutely no idea what to buy for. The whole point about an experience day is that you can treat someone to something they wouldn’t dream of purchasing for themselves, like a Ferrari racing day, an afternoon tea experience or a luxury spa weekend. There are so many different experiences to choose from for him, her, families and couples alike and you’ll be TOTALLY spoilt for choice! Personally, I use Red Letter Days, I’ve never had a bad experience with them, but there are a number of different companies offering similar gifts, and you can find anything you need on there. Just beware of any date restrictions that might be part of the experience, and read the small print before you buy!

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? – As you know, Red Letter Days is a firm favourite of mine, but you could also try Groupon, Buy A Gift or Virgin Experience Days for fun alternatives! Prices can start from as little as £10 for a photoshoot to as much as £200 for a hotel stay, depending on where you buy from.

A Selfie Stick

 

 

WHAT IS IT? – It’s pretty self explanatory, and if you don’t know what it is where have you been HIDING for the past 5 years? Selfie sticks have taken the travel (and photography) industry by storm and I for one absolutely love them! They make a great present and enable you to take great pics from a range of different angles, and you can avoid the awkwardness of asking another human to take your photo in front of that really cool statue just cos, ya know, sometimes that can be embarrassing if they say no and walk away, or if they don’t understand your language and stare at you weirdly. Selfie sticks are particularly good for solo travellers – yes you are independent human who doesn’t need to rely on ANYONE else to get the perfect profile picture! You got thisssss.

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? – There are sooo many outlets selling these, but any kind of major store such as Debenhams and Argos or supermarkets and walmarts will stock these, or pretty much any online store!

 

A Decent Suitcase

 

 

WHAT IS IT? – I would hope that you all know what a suitcase is… This may seem like a boring, practical present, but I literally LOVE my suitcase and it was the best present in the world (ok, I bought it myself, for myself, I won’t lie!) My bright pink companion comes EVERYWHERE with me, no matter how long or short my trip is. This one was just £25 from TK Maxx, it’s a hard cased, 4 wheeled and incredibly strong and sturdy. It’s also big enough for me to put everything in; it can carry an awful lot, I don’t have to worry about it getting wet or ripped, and I can do it up without busting the zip (bonus!) Every travel lover NEEDS a suitcase, so treat them to a decent one and they’ll be so excited to use it that they’ll end up booking their next adventure before you can say Boxing Day. You’re welcome.

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? – As I’ve mentioned, my pink companion was from TK Maxx, but any major department stores will stock decent suitcases, especially at this time of year, so try Debenhams, John Lewis or large supermarkets too!

A Scratch Map

 

 

WHAT IS IT? – This is SUCH  a good idea, it’s basically a large map which can be hung on your wall, and you then scratch off the world country by country once you’ve visited specific places. I love mine, I’m obsessed with scratching off new countries as soon as I’ve come back from visiting them, especially as I’m halfway through my 25:25 challenge! A scratch map is a really thoughtful present, and it’s also good for setting goals and planning travel adventures for the year ahead. You can even put photos or souvenirs around the edges to make it look pretty too – yay!

WHERE CAN  I GET ONE? – Major department stores and supermarkets, as well as popular online giants such as Amazon & eBay.

 

A Travel Journal

 

🛫Traveling 🚄 It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller 📚 📝Perfect set from MV Design Atelier for all those sybarite travelers – travel journal with 112 laid paper pages and travel wallet to keep your documents always neat and well organized 🛄Handmade in Barcelona paying special attention to all the details to offer you a stylish, beautiful and practical travel accessories set 🎁 Perfect gift for any travel addict, business traveler, frequent flyer, backpacker who loves to travel in style and organized and document his or her thoughts and travel experiences on paper, do free writing or write poems, make sketches and draw when spending hours in a plane or a train ———————- #traveltheworld #traveladdict

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WHAT IS IT? – A travel journal is a reaaaalllyy cute gift, like really really cute. I want one rather a lot, but no one has bought me one yet! *hint hint* I think that, in this day and age, with phones, laptops and social media, it is so nice to go back to basics and start WRITING about your travel experiences, you know, grab a pen and some paper and just pour your heart out. Describe the amazing adventures you’ve been on, or explain any adversities you may have had to face as part of your trip. If you write each day, you’ll have a proper account of what happened on your trip, and every little detail will be there for you to relive in the weeks/months/years to come – I wish I had done this on my American adventure; I blogged when I was there, and my Instagram feed is a great visual diary, but its just not the same as having a written timeline of events that I can go through again and again… If no one buys me a journal for Christmas I am 100% buying one for myself as a new years present, and I have absolutely NO SHAME in that whatsoever!

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? – You can pick up journals pretty much anywhere, in the supermarkets, or on Amazon or eBay, but check out top stationary stores Paperchase & Typo for specific travel related ones!

 

A Portable Mobile Phone Charger

 

 

WHAT IS IT? – Well, as the name suggests, this little device lets you charge your mobile on the go, so you don’t have to be attached to a mains plug whilst taking your selfies. These make great stocking fillers, and are sooo handy, especially if your travel friends are out and about for hours on end. From a safety point of view they’re brilliant too, who wants to run out of battery when they’re out hiking in the middle of nowhere?!

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? – Most retailers stock these, but I love my one from PNY Europe! It’s thin, lightweight and can be slotted into my jean pocket without me feeling a thing. The best thing about it is that it isn’t bulky/heavy and doesn’t take up any room at all – it’s been a life saver at times where I’ve been out ALL DAY and desperately needed to contact someone, or take a great Instagram shot, because that’s important too, right?!

 

So there we have it, my pick of the top 6 gifts to buy your travel lovers this Christmas. If you’re braving the stores, good luck with all the crowds, I don’t envy you one bit! Or if you’re ordering online, be quick, don’t miss those delivery deadlines! Have you bought any travel related gifts for your loved ones this Christmas? If you’re a traveller yourself, what do you ask for from your friends and family? I’d love to find out and add some more items to my wish-list, especially with my birthday coming up… 😉

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

Love Jess x

So yesterday was #christmasjumperday and I finallyyyyy started to feel #festive for the first time this December! 🎅🌲🌟

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Happy 1st December! Christmas SURPRISE- Guess what I'm doing?!

 

Hi everyone,

So I know I said this in my November Newsletter yesterday, but I cannot BELIEVE we are now into the last month of 2016!! Where the HELL has this past year gone?!?! I’ve had the craziest, happiest and best year of my life, and I’m actually a little sad that this year feels like it’s ending so soon, although I have already started travel planning for 2017 and am looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring. As I mentioned in my Instagram post earlier on, and it’s the 1st of December today, the first day of this year’s Christmas Countdown, I thought I would launch something brand new for my blog – I’ve never done it before, so let’s see how it goes…

I’m doing a

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(drum roll please)

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*** C H R I S T M A S  G I V E A W A Y ***

 

I am sooo excited about this as I’ve never ran any kind of giveaway/competition before on my blog! I thought it would be nice to do something different and, now that I’m in true festive mode, I thought I’d give a little something back to one of YOU, my lovely readers, to say thank you for being amazing and reading my blog!

Last Christmas I got given not one but TWO copies of The Lonely Planet’s  Best Ever Photography Tips and I’m giving one away to one of YOU lovely lot!

 

This is a brilliant book filled with tips and tricks aplenty and would make a fab stocking filler this Christmas! I’ll also throw in a little treat or two for the prize winner, so you’ll get an extra surprise when you open your parcel!

 

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As well as top travel photography tips and page after page of stunning shots, the book also gives advice on capturing the best landscapes, close ups and night time images, perfect if you’re always on the move or, if like me, you’re a total photography novice!

 

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So, I know you’re all DYING to know how you can take part in this, and it is oh so simple. To enter my 2016 Christmas Giveaway, all you have to do is Like my Facebook page  – once my page has reached 500 Likes  I’ll announce the winner (the 500th person to like the page) and will post your prize to you – it couldn’t be simpler!

What are you waiting for? Take part in my Festive Giveaway now – it’s officially OPEN! Go go go!

Can’t wait to see who the winner is!

Love Jess x

🌲🌲

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10 InstaPics That Will Make You Want To Visit London's Winter Wonderland On Its 10th Anniversary This Christmas

Hey everyone,

So I know we’re still in November, but I have been feeling ever so festive lately, mainly because I took a trip to London’s Winter Wonderland last weekend! I went with my two sisters and two of my cousins and we had a wonderfully festive day out at the Hyde Park Christmas fair. In my opinion, it’s never too early to get in the Christmas spirit, and with the festival’s 10th year anniversary celebrations in full swing, here are 10 of my favourite photos from the day proving why you should visit Winter Wonderland this Christmas!

#1 The Carousel

Winter Wonderland 🌲🎅☃✨

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Just look at it. The inner child in me is just raring to get on that thing, it’s the ultimate fair ground ride, and there’s a giant Christmas tree right next to it. I. Am. SOLD.

#2 The Sparkly Lights

 

The park looks pretty amazing during the day time, but it looks truly spectacular after dark when the millions of lights are turned on and the park truly glitters in the night sky. Just LOOK at those lights!

#3 The Markets

 

It’s no secret that Winter Wonderland is brimming with Christmas markets selling everything from candles and soaps to handmade jewellery and wood carved ornaments. Wander round the market stalls, soak up the festive atmosphere and bag some unique gifts from these traditional German style wooden huts.

#4 The Rides

 

The rides are just amazing, from tiny spinning tea cups for the kids to giant rollercoasters for the thrill seeking adults and every kind of ride you can think of packed in between, there’s something for every rider and the queues are well worth the wait!

*TIP* To beat the queues go o on a week-day, not a weekend, and ride in the morning/early afternoon instead of the evening.

#5 The Food Stalls

🌲🌲

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There are hundreds of food stalls stocking everything from burgers and chips to German Bratwurst (sausage), roasted chestnuts, chocolate waffles and as many pick n mix sweets as you can manage! The Bavarian Village is a great place to escape the cold and relax for an hour, whilst the Carousel Bars (yes, really) are super cool, just be prepared to stand up while you waltz!

#6 The Special Attractions

 

Although entrance to the park is free, there are a number of additional attractions which are charged separately. I’d recommend booking online to guarantee your time slot, especially as the park will get busier in the lead up to December. The attractions include a Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippos Christmas Circus and a special showing of The Nutcracker on Ice.

#7 The Games Stands

German markets, giant towers and scary rollercoasters… It could only be winter wonderland! 🎅🌲 #London #visitlondon #winterwonderland

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There may be fairground rides aplenty, but there’s also tonnes of games stands to be found whilst wandering round the park. Try your hand at a game of hook-a-duck, mini-basketball or take on the shooting-gallery to be in with the chance of bagging a special Winter Wonderland prize!

#8 The Ice Rink

 

Is there anything more romantic than gliding across the ice and soaking up the festive atmosphere? I doubt it. But, this only applies if you don’t fall over. And end up looking like a total fool in front of all the ogling spectators. Don’t do it if you can’t skate! Only joking, it’s all good fun, and it’ll warm you up if you’re cold – you will sweat SO FRIKKIN MUCH!

#9 The Ferris Wheel

 

Just like The London Eye, but not as expensive, the ferris wheel at Winter Wonderland is one of the absolute must do’s. You’ll soar high into the sky and rotate slowly, enabling you to take in the most spectacular panoramic views of the park, and the rest of London too. I’d recommend taking your ‘flight’ once the sun goes down, as the park looks sooo much more impressive from above after dark, when everything is lit up!

#10 The Selfie Opportunities

Christmassy little day with my gorgeous family 🎅🌲☃🌟🎡 #winterwonderland #london #girlsgirlsgirls

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There are SO many places to take great selfies and you’ll be totally spoilt for choice, but we loved this polar bear/ ice cliff/waterfall sculpture and took our favourite photo of the day right in that very spot!

Have YOU visited Winter Wonderland yet? If not, what are you waiting for?! It its totally FREE to enter, and the park is open from 10am-10pm every day until 2nd January 2017. Go go go!

Love Jess x

 

December Newsletter – End of year round up!

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Hi everyone,

It’s that time of year again! I can’t believe we are now at the end of 2015… IT IS CRAAZYY! I have had a fantastic year and been to some beautiful places so am excited to start planning my 2016 over the next few months! I’ll be combining this newsletter with my end of year review but I’ll start with December and it’s been a cracker of a month.. here’s what I got up to…

I went to DISNEYLAND!

I had the most MAGICAL time at my favourite place on earth a couple of weeks ago. Me and two of my best friends booked a last minute, Christmassy trip to our happy place and we never wanted to leave! Read my trip highlights for photos, reviews and tips a plenty.. I dare you not to be filled with Disney wanderlust!

I finished my content writing internship!

linked in recommendation

If you saw last month’s newsletter you’ll know that I recently took part in a month long internship for Freedom2Explore. I’ve now finished the internship and got a great LinkedIn Recommendation from my point of contact over at the company. I’m hoping the invaluable experience I gained whilst carrying out the internship will open other doors for me and will enable me to take my first steps into the world of travel/content writing when the time comes. A HUGE thank you to Becky & Jonathan for having me!

I had my works Christmas do!

Works Christmas parttyyyy 🎄🎅🎉👯

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For my annual works Xmas do we dressed up and headed to the beautiful Eynsham Hall for a casino night. We were treated to a slap up three course meal, disco and casino experience and danced the night away! I’ve been to Eynsham Hall many times over the years and it’s such a gorgeous place- I even had my two school proms there! Here’s me glammed up not looking like my usual, plain-Jane self at alllll!

I published my first post for ShopperLottie.com

My first post for the fantastic Shopper Lottie magazine went live a few weeks ago and I was sooo proud to have ANOTHER piece of published work! My first post was all about London at Christmas, and it’s so beautiful you just HAVE to visit! Read on for some serious city inspo

ITS CHRIIIISSTTMMASSS!

This Christmas I spent some super quality time with my nearest and dearest, and I was able to really relax and enjoy myself at home with my family. We had such a lovely day playing games, exchanging presents and eating lots of yummy food! My family mean everything to me and have been there for me every step of the way, so I was thrilled to be able to share this special time of year with those who mean most to me! Ok that’s enough soppiness now… 😉

We're the three best friends that anybody could have…Merry Christmas everybodyyyy! 💖🎄🎅👯💖 #sisters #girls #love #christmas

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Overall I’ve had a fantastic 2015, filled with lots of fun and adventure, but also some personal health traumas and heartache along the way! If you’re an avid follower of my blog (I love you, thank you! If not, why aren’t you subscribed yet?) you’ll know that I recently hit a bit of a brick wall and have been struggling to feel content with my current situation so have decided to make this year the time for change!

I’m yet to decide what to do, I’m torn between interailing round Europe or road tripping across America for a few months… HELP! What do I do?! Your response to my recent Mid Life Crisis article was AMAZING! I was so overwhelmed with all your lovely comments, some from people I know in the travel blogging world, and some from complete strangers! THANK YOU!

I’m now looking forward to 2016 and the life changes I’m going to make to ensure I see as much of this world as I possibly can and I want to meet lots of shiny new people along the way! As ever, I’ll be posting regularly and will keep you all updated. I’ve also got some new blog features planned which I’ll be sharing with you into the new year and I want to say a massive THANK YOU again to each and everyone of you who have subscribed to this blog, liked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter.. it means the absolute world and I can’t wait to reach out to even more of you in the coming months!

All that’s left for me to say now is… HAPPY NEW YEAR PEOPLE! Wishing you love and happiness and the very best for 2016! Now where’s my glitzy party dress?!…

Love Jess x

#oxford #itsstillchristmas 👯🎄🎉🍸

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